In my city.

So cities, specifically New York and Philadelphia have always been my favorite, for a very sadistic reason. I get to be mean in those cities. Visiting New York is like the Purge to me. Someone gets too close? Shoulder Check them. Last seat on the subway? Ram all other competitors out of the way. Glare at each other for a bit and then get on with whatever you’re doing. There’s a sadistic joy to cities.

But aesthetically, what I love about cities is the absolute sensory overload. Between the smells of whatever food cart you’re passing, or the subway grates, the visuals of graffiti and skyscrapers, and the noise. Cities can keep the senses going on high alert for some time, to some it’s too much but for me it’s just right.

So living in Thailand now I was excited to see some cities, especially knowing that most of my life would be spent in some rural location that many can’t find on the map. So when I got the chance to go to the cities better believe I took it.

First stop. Bangkok. First reaction, why’s it so wide? The skyscrapers are alright but they don’t look that great. Not a noticeable skyline coming in. Going into NYC I always admired the skyline of Manhattan and Lady Liberty not so far off. But Bangkok didn’t really have that. Maybe I missed it. Check into the hostel. Whatever, it’s a hostel no need to bore readers with that. Okay next, get to the main mall. Let’s see what happening there. Where’s the subway? Nope, everyone uses the skyline. What the……. I don’t understand. Why take up space vertically when you could put the entire system underground? Next note, skyline is just two lines. One goes vertically and one goes horizontally. My mind was doing the “confused math woman” meme. My mind went to Manhattan again, thinking to my self that this is too much work. What would happen if someone wanted to get from Brooklyn to The Upper West Side, it’s a diagonal transit and it wouldn’t be possible with just two lines going in a plus sign. Did I like Bangkok? Maybe. I don’t know. It was a city and it was nice to check it out but I’m not rushing back and I certainly didn’t hold on to my Skyline card. (Still have my NYC metro card though.)

Next city was Chiang Mai, and I’m 90% sure I lost five years of my life and gave myself lung cancer in that city. Learning that the air in Chiang Mai is 4x worse than NYC air blew my mind. I couldn’t understand it. NYC literally smells awful, depending on your location but I’ve never left with my lungs hurting. But nevertheless Chiang Mai was memorable. Elephants and the first soul food I’ve had in months, and great times with friends. But again, I’m in no rush to go back. It didn’t impress me that much.

I can guarantee anyone when I go back to the states I will live in a city, New York to be specific. I work well in cities and it’s where I thrive. The constant stimuli is refreshing and something I need to thrive. While the cities here were interesting on first view they weren’t for me. I still have two years though so hopefully one of those cities will begin to grow on me.

*Disclaimer, if you love Thailand’s cities, good for you. I just don’t right now.

Problems at home

Good God, I’m bored. I’m bored and I’m on a budget and my fuse is running out. I have ideas I want to act on, meaning painting, nothing that’ll send me to the psych ward. I have places I want to go. I want to see different people. All together I’m frustrated. The good news is I’m aware of it. The good news is there is an end in sight.

Summer break is almost over at my site, and now all the pieces are beginning to fall together. And by fall together I mean I sit with my counterpart in silence nearly everyday and I match the lesson plans to the day and hope that all of my students stay on track and it all works out. I put the finishing touches on my classroom and I hope the students like it. My counterpart asks how I like my house and if I need to go to town for anything, usually my response is “I’m okay.” But then when everything is done for the day, I return home.

Contradiction time. Home is a very fluid concept for long-term travelers and it’s especially true for Peace Corps Volunteers, we land in our training site and stay there with a host family for three months, then we are moved to site and stay with another family for around two months then if we so choose we can move out and be solo. I just moved into my own house and I’m working on making it a home. Not easy. All the things that I would put in the home category aren’t available here and re: I’m Broke, I can’t get them. So no Yankee candles, IKEA is a stretch, and don’t even think about Etsy (although I’ve been saving art to print at a later date). Simply missing home decor? Is that really the problem? No, but in it lacking it creates this feeling I’ve had since arriving in Thailand; that this is not my permanent home. I feel as though I’m still ready to get moved in two months and what’s the point of unpacking if I’ll have to pack again.

For five months Home has been a missing word from my lexicon. I didn’t even use it to describe where I’m from. But now home is back, home has been a checkpoint and I’m there. Home happens when I pull food out of the fridge and after five long months I can cook what I want to eat. Home happens when I can dance and sing without fear of my host family popping in my room and judging me, so Hamilton and clipping. on repeat from 4pm- 2am (good luck neighbors). Home happens when I can sweep my house as many times as I want without my family thinking I’m weird or obsessive compulsive. (Truth is I just really hate having dirty feet, and I have white tile so every speck is visible) But home stops happening when I’m reminded I don’t have running water. Home stops happening when I can hear my neighbors yelling in Thai and I can’t tell if they’re talking at me or to each other. Home stops happening when I walk outside and feel the sun beating on me quite mercilessly.

I moved a lot as a kid. Being a child of divorce moving was common and my home would change week to week or custody agreement to custody agreement depending on what happened first. And you would think that this constant moving would make me great at handling change, but it’s my biggest weakness. Change subconsciously scares the shit out of me. My mom is always the first to notice too. She knows the change is bothering me before I know. When I finally catch wind of my reaction I even out, and I can begin to handle the situation, so finally having my own home should feel amazing but rather I have felt as though I’m suffering from Capgras Delusion. Everything is in place finally, but it doesn’t feel like its mine, it’s been moved so many times and taken up residence in so many homes and hotels I feel like it must’ve been replaced with an exact copy at some point.

I’m now aware of my reactions and I’m beginning my handling of the situation. I clean at least 5 times a day, I move furniture left and right, I take mental inventory and make a nest of my futon every night. Then I marvel at it momentarily. This is my home for the next two years. Better start hanging that decor.

My favorite goodbye.

I’m five months into my 27 months in Peace Corps and recently I started thinking about all the byes I have said in the last half year. I said bye to both my biological family and my host family, both of those were equally hard in different ways. I said goodbye to my bosses, managers, and co-workers, not super easy. I said bye to my Tuesday night darts and drinking buddies. Probably the easiest in all honesty. And I said bye to other volunteers but that’s not so much of a bye as it is a see you soon. But of all the byes that I had to say the one that affected me the most, mostly out of sheer confusion was my best friend.

We had agreed to spend the day at the mall, and later go to one of our favorite restaurant’s Bahama Breeze, known for it’s hokey interior and being the only place I could get vaguely authentic Caribbean food and Red Stripe Beer. We sat for hours with her watching an Eagles game and me entertaining myself through Pokemon Go. We were without a doubt camping and quickly becoming the bane of our servers existence, but I couldn’t find it in me to want to leave. I didn’t know if I’d see her again and the prospect of moving scared me and for the past year she had been a rock for me.

As I’ve said many times, my friends reflect what I want to be. Megan was exactly what I needed at the time. I needed someone to show me how to be kind, and happy without fear. And she did just that, to this day my mother accredits Megan with helping me become softer.

But saying bye to her. We walked to our cars, gave a small hug, and she said “I’ll see you later.” then got into her VW Bug and drove home. My mind was racing, I thought “I’m leaving in like two days, what if we don’t see each other by then. How could she have left with such a weak bye?” I was perplexed. But then I thought maybe she was being so abrupt because she too wasn’t ready to say bye. It’s easier to say see you later. Bye seems so final. So as it is then, I’ll see you later.

Meeting the world my way